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27 / 09 / 2008 - Attempt to impose abortion on Northern Ireland could collapse Assembly
An attempt by Labour MPs to impose abortion on Northern Ireland could collapse the Northern Assembly, according to a leading Assembly member.
Pat Ramsey, Assembly member for the SDLP, has said the legislation being proposed by the group of MPs to force Northern Ireland to legalise abortion is “outrageous”.
The attempt, he said in an interview with the Irish Catholic on Thursday, went “against the clear wishes of the people of Northern Ireland”.
He also said that the move could bring down the whole Assembly. “I don't think there'd be much point in having an assembly where all the parties are opposed to abortion, but the British government imposes it anyway,” he pointed out.
His warning comes in the wake of a pledge by a group of Labour MPs led by Diane Abbot, to “harmonise” Northern Ireland's abortion law with that of the liberal abortion regime in the rest of the UK. There, abortion is available practically on demand up to six months, and up to nine months where the unborn child has even a slight abnormality, such as a cleft palate.
The group are proposing to make the change as early as next month, when the House of Parliament in the UK will debate the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
Mr Ramsey pointed out that, when the Northern Assembly debated a proposal to liberalise abortion there, there was “clear cross party opposition to abortion”.
“In a place where politicians rarely agree about anything, it is incredible that British MPs want to ignore this consensus,” Mr Ramsey added.
According to the Irish Catholic report, the five leaders of the main Northern Irish parties have signed a joint letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown requesting that he block moves to bring abortion into Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, Precious Life, the leading pro life group in Northern Ireland, says it plans a major rally to demonstrate public opposition to any move to bring in a more liberal abortion law.
According to Bernadette Smyth, a spokesperson for the group, the rally will have the support of MPs, pro life groups and Northern Assembly members.
She told the Irish Catholic: “The Rally for Life will give the people of Northern Ireland an opportunity to send out a clear message to Westminister that we will never accept the extension of the Abortion Act.”
Meanwhile, earlier this week, the PLC (Pro-Life Campaign) described remarks by UK ethicist Baroness Mary Warnock in which she said patients with Alzheimers had “a duty to die” as “beneath contempt”.
Baroness Warnock, who has consulted with the Government-appointed Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction (CAHR) on the issue of embryonic stem cells, said in a interview last week that “If you’re demented, you’re wasting people’s lives – your family’s lives – and you’re wasting the resources of the National Health Service.”
Lady Warnock added that she hoped people will soon be “licensed to put others down” if they are unable to look after themselves.
In a statement, John Smyth of the Pro-Life Campaign said: “It goes without saying that the mark of a civilised society is one that cherishes and looks out for its most vulnerable citizens. Thankfully we still hold to an ethos in Ireland where every human life is respected and valued. We must do whatever it takes to keep it that way.
He added that it was “a disgrace” that Baroness Warnock had been special guest speaker at a conference in Dublin Castle funded by the Government. Baroness Warnock, Mr Smyth said had “a long track record of disrespecting human life so there is no excuse for the invite she received”.
The conference in question, he went on “was heavily biased against the pro-life position”. The conference, held in Dublin Castle in 2005, concerned the ethical acceptability of embryonic stem cell research and was hosted by the CAHR.
Source : Ci News